Just as there are many desktop 3D printers, there are as many different kinds of filament for them. But what might an ideal filament be?
We’ve sometimes contemplated a magic desktop 3D printer that somehow incorporated the best features from many manufacturers, but this fantasy will never occur because the vendors seek those unique features to draw customers to their products. Such a “Frankenstein” style device will never exist, but it’s fun to imagine them.
But what if we did the same exercise for 3D printer filament? What would an ideal filament be made of? What features and capabilities would it have?
We came up with a list of features we’d like to see in a “FrankenFilament”:
No Odor: Our hypothetical FrankenFilament will emit NO odors whatsoever during printing, unlike most 3D printer filaments of today that exhibit something between pleasant sugary smells to pungent, run-away-fast smells.
No Warp: FrankenFilament will not shrink noticeably when cooled, and thus be immune to the perils of 3D printing warps. This also would remove the need for heated chambers and print surfaces.
Non-Toxic: Our FrankenFilament must be non-toxic, and even food safe. In other words, you should be able to eat a lot of this stuff and be only dissatisfied with the flavor.
Anti-Microbial: The filament will include features to destroy any germs present on its surface. This will enable the ability to print mechanically food-safe objects, as well as chemically.
Bio-Degradable: The FrankenFilament plastic must degrade over time if abandoned outside, but not too quickly as to prevent functional objects from being used for a time.
Recyclable: You might not have a way to do this yourself, but the FrankenFilament plastic must be easily re-made into fresh filament.
Sticky: This fantasy filament must stick to a cold print surface made of some commonly available material - but not so hard that the print cannot be removed after completion.
No Emissions: The amount of nano-particles emitted by hot FrankenFilament must be near zero, making this safe for use in almost any environment.
Brilliant Colors: Our FrankenFilament should be available in a very wide range of highly brilliant colors - all of which must be non-toxic, of course.
Extreme Tolerance: The FrankenFilament must be of extreme geometric precision, perhaps less than 0.01mm variance in filament diameter and roundness. This will hugely assist in enabling higher quality prints.
Generic: FrankenFilament must be sold generically and not locked up in proprietary cartridges; every machine must have the opportunity to use FrankenFilament!
Multiple Spool Sizes: FrankenFilament vendors must provide multiple spool options to enable use on popular 3D printers.
Cheap: Yes, FrankenFilament should be inexpensive. Very inexpensive. Like USD$10 per kg, or less.
Well, with that last point, you are now thinking we’ve strayed into fantasy, and you’d be right. In fact, much of the above is also fantasy.
But it’s OK to dream once in a while, isn’t it?
Your assignment: what did we miss?